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Top 6 Best Order Fulfillment Options for Square

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If you’re a small or medium business owner that takes credit card payments online, you’ve probably heard of Square even if it’s not your preferred payment platform. They’ve been all over the news as a success story of a company that grew from a niche manufacturer of payment processing hardware for small merchants into a $100-billion-plus financial ecosystem.

And if you’re a client of Square Online or thinking about becoming one, then you know you need a strong, reliable fulfillment partner to complement the ease of use Square Online offers. Because if only two of the three elements of your customers’ experience with you are operating at peak efficiency (shopping and paying), and the third (fulfillment) is lacking, you’re playing with fire:

  • 45% of shoppers expect their items to be delivered within four to five days
  • 69% of online shoppers say they will be significantly less likely to shop with a retailer if they do not deliver within two days of the promised date
  • 16% of online shoppers will take their business elsewhere after one incorrect delivery date

Before getting into the best fulfillment options for Square Online users, below is a quick recap for new eCommerce entrepreneurs. If you’re a veteran in the eCommerce space, skip down to “How We Choose the Best Square Fulfillment Companies.”

What is Square?

Square is a mobile payment processing app and card reader, and the very first of its kind, which is why the adoption rate was so high.

Overnight, Square (and then Square Online) let anyone accept credit card payments with their phones or tablets. And that “anyone” included those who up until that point only knew their business as a cash business like farmers’ market and flea market vendors.

Square was also unique when it launched because it didn’t require contracts, commitments, applications or monthly fees. All you needed was an email address and knowledge of how the Square dashboard works.

Today, Square Online is a complete revenue collection system for vendors on and offline; every account holder is enabled to accept online orders, ring up orders at POS and receive payments through the Square dashboard.

What is Order Fulfillment?

Order fulfillment is a quick way to describe the process of receiving a purchase order from a customer, processing that order and getting the purchased product to the purchaser. The fulfillment process begins when a customer’s order is received and ends when that customer receives their order.

When the customer receives the item or items they ordered in the time they were promised, this is considered positive fulfillment. If a hiccup anywhere along the fulfillment chain disrupts the process and the customer either receives their package late or doesn’t get what they asked for, this is considered negative fulfillment.

How Does the Square Fulfillment Process Work?

Square (and Square Online) makes fulfillment extremely easy for anyone from the Square dashboard.

From your Square dashboard that you can integrate into your site, you can set up curbside pickup or shipping fulfillment for any item. And you can set up a shipping fee if you see fit. Alternatively, you can use Square Online to build your own eCommerce site with a fulfillment option.

Either way, once you’re ready to accept orders with Square Online, you can choose your fulfillment method form the Square dashboard: fulfill yourself (i.e., you find the item, wrap it, box it and add arrange for curbside pickup or prepare the shipping label, ship it and track the shipment to make sure it gets to your customer), or you can bring in a third-party logistics (3PL) company for fulfillment.

What Does a 3PL Order Fulfillment Provider Do?

A 3PL order fulfillment provider will set the fulfillment method and handle the entire fulfillment process. It’s a massive headache off your plate and it gives you back hours of time per week (or more depending on how much you sell and how many shipping labels you have to produce) to put towards growing your business.

Some 3PLs will be software to help you pick, pack, create shipping labels and ship items purchased by your customers. Others own and operate their own warehouses to store your products and ship from there. And a few (like ShipHero) offer both.

What Are the Benefits of Using an eCommerce Order Fulfillment Service?

As mentioned above, the big benefit of using a 3PL for eCommerce fulfillment is getting rid of a huge pain in the neck, which you can do right from the Square dashboard.

The fulfillment process has so many moving parts and so much that can go wrong along the way that entire college-level courses are dedicated to it. And if you run an eCommerce business, you’re most likely too busy to take it. This would put you in a disadvantageous position if things went off the rails.

With a 3PL behind the scenes, whatever happens wouldn’t be your problem. And if the worst did happen, you’d know you had real experts in the field to respond, react and fix the issue before it cost you a customer.

Find out more about ShipHero’s fully-outsourced Fulfillment Solution now.

Factors to Consider While Selecting an Order Fulfillment Partner for Square Online

Like in almost every other business-to-business service market, the 3PL options for fulfillment are plentiful and varied, with many pretenders for every one contender. That’s why it’s important to be diligent in your research before selecting a 3PL fulfillment partner for your eCommerce business.

Fulfillment Type/Order Fulfillment Speed

This is the biggest one because failure here can lead directly to lost business (as stated above). You should definitely be looking for a 3PL that offers some sort of same-day delivery, as 41 percent of consumers are willing to pay a charge for same-day delivery.

Pricing and Storage/Fulfillment/Transaction Fees

On the surface, you’ll pay more for 3PL fulfillment than if you were to do it yourself. But if time is money, the investment in self-fulfillment is substantial. So, the goal when finding a 3PL is to spend less than you’d spend doing it yourself. Only you know that number, but be steadfast getting under it.

Returns Management

Less than one in 10 products bought in bricks-and-mortar stores are returned. Online, it’s close to 30 percent. So, the effectiveness of your returns process is very important for operations, but also for customer retention: 92 percent of consumers surveyed said they would buy again if the product return process was easy.

What to Look for in a Square Online Fulfillment Partner

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of possible 3PL vendors, you’d be wise to look under the hoods of each to make sure they can work with Square Online and the Square dashboard, and that they are in fact a fulfillment expert for Square Online. How well they execute the fulfillment type they promise will dictate their value to you.

eCommerce Platform Integration

This is obviously the most important part. If a 3PL provider can’t plug into Square Online or the Square dashboard, they’re of no use to you whatsoever.

Multichannel Integration

You never want your 3PL to keep you from growing, so you have to trust them to know everything about where you want to start selling next, and how to follow or adjust their fulfillment type to handle those orders.

Ease of Use

Often overlooked in 3PL selection is smoothness across the fulfillment process, and this starts with an interface that everyone along the line can use. And be picky. Find something you know will work for you and your team, where the transaction fees are minimal or non-existent, and that works with the Square dashboard.

How We Chose the Best Square Online Fulfillment Companies

You have many order fulfillment partner choices, so choosing one can be tough. Fortunately, we can help with that. Here are the criteria we use when choosing the best Square fulfillment companies:

  • Shipping speed
  • Fulfillment network
  • Fulfillment software features
  • Returns management
  • Subscription, storage and shipping costs

The Best Square Online Fulfillment Companies

1. ShipHero

ShipHero was founded by a former eCommerce entrepreneur who was frustrated with the shipping software options available and decided to do something about it.

Pros

As mentioned above, the big pro ShipHero has going for it is the choice you have to either use their software to ship from your warehouse, or to let them ship your items from their warehouse, giving you back days of time by the end of every year.

Cons

Right now, the perceived knock on ShipHero is that it’s not a market leader yet. But that’s changing quickly.

Pricing

ShipHero Fulfillment offers flat rate shipping costs that includes picking, packing, shipping, mailing supplies and postage. Pricing is more competitive without shipping zones and costs are more predictable.

Find out more about ShipHero’s fully-outsourced Fulfillment Solution now.

2. ShipStation

ShipStation is a web-based order management and shipping software. They don’t have their own warehouses, but their software is used in North America, Europe and Australia.

Pros

  • Fairly flexible and relatively easy to use
  • Integrates with QuickBooks

Cons

  • Can be clunky to use for some people
  • Once your shipments reach 500 per day or more, the system loses its efficiency and can actually slow you down

Pricing

They offer six tiers up to $229.99/month based on how much you think you’re going to ship.

3. ShipBob

ShipBob is another web-based platform in the ShipStation family, and it has a built-in analytics cruncher.

Pros

  • The ShipBob staff is very large, so help with problems when they arise is easy to get

Cons

  • The learning curve is steep for beginners and tech newbies
  • Struggle with API issues and compatibility

Pricing

Shipping costs are customized per client.

4. Ordoro

A shipping solution for small- to medium-sized businesses with a small business, homespun feel.

Pros

It has an intricate inventory tracking tool, which works well for eCommerce companies with multiple SKUs.

Cons

Overall, the features aren’t as robust as others.

Pricing

Pricing is definitely competitive, but you get what you pay for.

5. Shipedge

Shipedge has a suite of products to manage the entire order management lifecycle, supply chain and logistics in one centralized platform.

Pros

Easy to integrate with most platforms.

Cons

Not the most user-friendly interface.

Pricing

Pricing is modular.

Find out more about ShipHero’s fully-outsourced Fulfillment Solution now.

6. Printful

Printful is a 3PL fulfillment company primarily for eCommerce apparel companies, and specifically apparel creators.

Pros

You can use Printful to design your own products

Cons

  • Its functionality is limited to the needs of its primary audience
  • Products are not made until ordered which could cause shipping delays

Pricing

Pricing is customized

Final Thoughts About Square Fulfillment

If you’re a Square Online customer, you clearly care about quality and about giving your customers the best possible experience. By choosing the right 3PL shipping partner, you complete the loop.

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